Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment that aims to enhance the body’s natural healing processes. During HBOT a patient will lie down on a bed inside a pressurized chamber. The atmosphere inside the chamber is then converted to 100 percent oxygen. This hyperbaric (high pressure) dose of oxygen gets delivered to tissues throughout the body by the patient’s bloodstream. Oxygen is required in every cell for everyday functions and increased oxygen has been shown to help restore health in areas of disease, injury and infection.
Hyperbaric oxygen treatments can be used to treat the following wounds:
• Diabetic wounds/ulcers
• Crush injuries
• Thermal burns
• Radiation injuries
• Bone infections
• Post-operative infections
• Non-healing wounds
What happens during a hyperbaric oxygen treatment
The individual is placed in a total body chamber where the oxygen is raised about two to three times higher than normal. This is considered a “mild” pressure which offers the most beneficial oxygen levels while also avoiding any potential side effects. The treatments will not be painful. The increased pressure will make a temporary feeling of fullness in the ears, similar to what a person would experience on an airplane. Yawning or swallowing can usually relieve this pressure.
Most sessions will last about two hours. Patients will be monitored by the medical staff throughout the entire treatment. Treatments can be stopped at any time if the patient is uncomfortable or needs to get up, but should be avoided if possible. Many individuals report feeling tired hungry after undergoing a hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Physical activities before and after sessions are not limited or restricted due to HBOT.
How many treatment sessions are needed
The number of sessions needed depends on the medical condition being treated. For chronic, non-healing wounds, many require between 20 and 40 treatments to see full results. These will generally take place once per day, Monday through Friday, for four to six consecutive weeks.
How to prepare for hyperbaric oxygen therapy
Clothing will be provided at each session. If the patient is ill or congested they should always alert the staff before beginning a session. Pure oxygen is very flammable and can ignite if there is a spark or a source of fuel. Please do not bring/wear any of the following items to a treatment session:
• Lighters, matches or cigarettes
• Battery-powered devices
• Jewelry or watches
• Contact lenses
• If fingernails or toenails are painted they must have been painted at least 24 hours before each therapy session.
• Do not wear makeup, perfume, aftershave, lotion, deodorant or any Vaseline products
• Wigs or hair pieces
• Food or chewing gum
• Pantyhose or nylons
• Do not wear any hair wax, oil or spray
• Loose dentures
Always discuss full medical history with the medical provider before undergoing any treatments. Side effects from HBOT are extremely rare but can include the following:
• Barotrauma to the ears and sinuses – This is the most common side effect which is caused by the change in pressure. This can usually be solved by swallowing or yawning.
• Changes in vision – Some patients experience temporary nearsightedness which usually resolves itself within days to weeks after the last HBOT.
• Oxygen toxicity – In very rare circumstances patients might suffer from oxygen toxicity caused by administering too much oxygen. Oxygen poisoning can cause lung failure, fluid in the lungs and seizures. Sessions are kept under two hours to prevent the chance of oxygen poisoning.
Are hyperbaric oxygen treatments approved by health insurance?
Medicare has approved coverage for hyperbaric oxygen treatments when used for wound healing. Most private insurance companies follow the same rules as Medicare and also cover HBOT.
Where to get hyperbaric oxygen therapy in Houston
The Wound Care Unit at OakBend Medical Center is fully equipped with state-of-the-art hyperbaric chambers to treat patients throughout the greater Houston area. If you are suffering from a non-healing wound, their highly skilled physicians have the talent and expertise to help. If you would like to find an appropriate and effective treatment plan for your wounds or injuries please contact them today by calling 281-341-3000.